Color Prejudice in Claude Mckay’s Banana Bottom

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Claude McKay is a prominent writer of Harlem Renaissance. It is also known as new Negro movement or Negro movement.The movement is florescence of African American culture in 1920s. It is welcoming literary, musical, theatrical, and visual arts. Moreover, Harlem Renaissance is the most competent movement in African American literary history. According to Paul Finkelman’s Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance says about Harlem Renaissance is the most significant developments in African American history in twentieth century. It also takes a very broad view of the renaissance and the connection of this movement to the major social, political, and intellectual developments in early twentieth African American history.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

In Robert Bone’s essay “Three Versions of Pastoral” portrays McKay’s literary career may be divided into four phases. The first or provincial phase, encompasses his first two books of verse, Songs of Jamaica (1912 and Constab Ballads (1912 . The second or picaresque phase, includes a book of poems, Harlem Shadows (1922 , and two novels, Home Harlem to (1928 and Banjo (1929 . The third, or pastoral phase, consists of a book of stories, Gingertown (1932 and a novel, Banana Bottom (1933 . The fourth, or retrospective phase, includes an autobiography, A Long Way from Home (1937 , and a sociological study, Harlem:Negro Metropolis.

And he describes about the protagonists of McKay’s Harlem stories are men and women divided against themselves. Trying to escape their blackness, and the penalties imposed upon it by the white world, they expose themselves to psychological disaster. They may experience a brief moment of happiness while in pursuit of white ideals, but invariably it proves to be illusory. Sooner or later some racial trauma intervenes to remind them that the barriers of caste are insurmountable. What holds these tales together is the fantasy of playing white is trying to exorcise a certain kind of psychological infatuation.

Thus, readers could find through McKay’s Banana Bottom, a bildungsroman novel demonstrate about black experiences in England and Jamaica. Tabitha Bita plant is a heroin of this novel. She is a young Jamaican peasant woman. This novel contained contradiction between white society and black culture. Because, Bita Plant is a daughter of Jordan Plant, he is a black peasant man. But she adopted by a white missionary couple Reverends Malcolm Craig and Priscilla Craig, who wants to establish their ability to transform a rebellious black girl into a cultured Christian, so that Bita plant had opportunity to study Sound Education for seven years in England. And she had visited Europe with Priscilla before returning to Jubilee. At the visited time Priscilla Craig proudly introduces her fatherland famous writers namely Shakespeare and Goethe as well as Bita Plant had been introduced to the charms of Munich and Dresden and Leipzig, the Rhine towns and the birthplaces of Goethe and Beethovan.

In jubilee sitting on the back veranda of the mission, Priscilla craig conversed with bita about the work of a the mission place and her new duties. It was generally understood that bita would be an auxiliary at the mission. Her training had been directed towards that end; therefore it came to her quite natural to fit into place. The secretary-treasurership of the Sunday school was now hers. And she would share the job of organist with Priscilla. And help the schoolmaster with the Band of Hop.

At the time of conversation Priscilla remarked that she had once thought of disbanding the Band of Hope. For when she first settled in jubilee she had considered it superfluous. The natives were contented with mild drinks like orange wine and ginger beer. But now so many of them were getting the habit of the hot Jamaica rum. The parsons and all the pious people were alarmed at the change. 

“It’s the Panama Canal” said Priscilla. “Our Negroes are not the same after contact with the Americans. They come back ruder.” Bita replied, “but they make more money there, though. The least two dollars a day, they say. And here they get only a shilling. Eight times more again over there.” And a loss of eight times eighty in native worth. They come back hard-drinking and strutting with bad manners, loud clothes and louders jewellery. “ I don’t like it,” continued Priscilla. “ times may be hard here and our black folk terribly poor. But I like them better so than when they come back peacocks from panama.” “ Money makes a big difference, though,” said Bita.

Through her attitudes readers can understand, she is the representative of white society in the novel. Likewise McKay derived the white dominant event like the Craigs have planned Bita Plant wants to marry a local black theological student, Herald Newton Day, who is self-admiration, feeling shame of his blackness and a perfect example of the transformation that the Craigs would like to effect in all the villagers. In Kenneth Ramchand essay “ The Road to Banana Bottom” says like mckay’s presentation of Herald Newton Day is enhanced by the new sense of characterization and human raletionships that readers see in Banana Bottom, and newly discovered comicresources. Because Day poses a threat to the heroin readers can enjoy his duration.

McKay lets Day’s own pompous language do the work, and he allows Bita and Gensir to patronize him . . . since Day is the willing protégé of the craigs, mckay can satirical him plausibly as a negro who gets a white man’s education and learns to despite his own people. . . . Herald Newton Day is the same type as the martiquen attacked by Ray in the novel Banjo, but it is only within the regulating structure of banana bottom and with Mckay’s sense of Day as an individual in the fictional world that the satiric effect can be achieved without signs of authorial straining. But the art of banana bottom is not free from impurities. It seems to be an indication of a loss of control in the novelist as well that, by the most violent irony like herald defiles himself with a goat . . . . The novel demands that Herald Newton Day should be removed from the scene but one cannot help feeling that the author is including spiteful impulse.

Bita immedieatly discovers that she has little in common with him, although she agrees to an engagement. Soon after her return, she meets hopping dick at a local market and is attracted by his undisguised sensuality and even by his reputation for being wild. She discovers his skill in dancing and romancing, and she learns that he is the antithesis of the Craigs ideal, herald. Squire Gensor, a freethinking British settler of aristocratic mien and background who is a serious student of Jamaican culture and an advocate of black self-esteam. He is opponent of the Craigs and their philosophy, he accompanies bita to a teameeting at which the locals enjoy themselves with dancing and singing, happy, she dances enthusiastically and recognizes her affinity with the village folk.

Moreover, readers have seen McKay’s autobiographical element like Bita’s problematic solution, the other is Squire Gensir’s, a British white collector of native folk tales and music, a romanticized figure modeled on McKay’s own mentor Walter Jekyll. Mrs. Crig learns of Bits’s all behaviour from sister phibby patrol. Who is a local midwife and gossip. Priscilla is apprehensive about “saving” the atavistic Bita.

Bita escape from jubilee and visits her own village, Banana Bottom, for a weekend. Here she notices Jubban, her father’s drayman, who is a bold, self-confident, and absolutely admirable black laborer of fine physique and natural dignity, both bita and jubban attraction is obvious. Bita visits the swimming hole where, as a child, she had many delightful moments, in the Edinic situation her sexuality is aroused. In this situation she realizes that her roots lie in the rural countrysides with the folk rather than with the westernized and Christian converts.

On her return to jubilee and at a harvest festival, bita introduces herald and hopping dick . herald’s pomposity repels her and his superficiality impresses squire gensir. Yet bita decides to marry hopping dick, he backs out and coverts to Christianity, forsaking his understrained of folkways. bita attends evival meeting with squire gensir, but when it becomes a religious orgy, she succumbs, dancing wildly and surrending to masochistic flagellation. She is rescued by jubban, who also subsequently rescues her from the sexual advances of Arthur Gengley, a wealthy near white, and later marries her.

During a hurricance and flood, Malcolm craig and Jordan plant, bita’s father, are drowned returning from a church meeting. Mrs. Craig dies shortly after, worried to death by disappointment . her speechless aduld son patou is dead, herald has disgraced both the craigs and their whole little world, and bita has forsaken the values and life style of the white community.

Squire gensir returns to England, dies, and leaves his Jamaican property and house to bita, who is rearing her son, jorden, in an environment that represent that amalgam of the best of the west Indian rural values modified by some of those of European society. Thus, the readers the significance of bita’s ful name, Tabitha, which is also the name of a free-aprited gazelle, a coarse- woven silk, and a cat of variegated color.

Through this character mckay portrays black people’s strangeness and faithfulness. Through the behavior of Priscilla reader can understand she is Here McKay gives exact picture of the popular hypothesis of white superiority and dark inferiority and the “survival of the fittest.” Let them be fooled and exploited by their own. It would be more tolerable, more human.

Get quality help now

Prof Saney

Verified writer

Proficient in: Race and Ethnicity, Writers, Experience

4.9 (316 reviews)
“He was able to complete the assignment following all directions in an elaborate manner in a short period of time. ”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Claude Mckay Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.